As I am currently writing this I am lying in bed, aching all over. It is the day after I completed the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon. I am feeling a whole host of emotions right now, but the most prominent ones are disbelief and pain. I actually can’t believe that I did it and I think that now is as good a time as any to reflect back on what has led me up to this day.
I registered my interest in running the London Marathon around this time last year, having completed the Paris Half Marathon around about a month earlier. I signed up with two charities, Help for Heroes and Teenage Cancer Trust. A short while later I heard back from both saying that my bid had been unsuccessful. In all honesty, I wasn’t too fussed and just continued as normal! Fast forward four months and I get a phone call saying a spot had opened up and would I still like to run for Teenage Cancer Trust. I accepted and promptly forget all about it. Roll around December and the reality of what I had signed up to do kicked in. I researched training plans, tips and tricks, what to eat, everything really! And then I found a plan that I could start on January 1st that would lead me up exactly to the date of the London Marathon.
I was so worried about undertaking my training but, looking back, that is one of the things about completing the marathon that I am most proud of. I dislike running and yet managed to drag myself out on a run 4-5 times a week for four months. I ran further and faster than I ever could have imagined and I learnt a lot about myself in those training runs. I wasn’t training to complete the marathon in a certain time, just to complete it. One of my favourite things that I have discovered through doing my training is that I absolutely LOVE podcasts and I have to say that they massively helped me get through the boring runs (you can read all about my favourite podcasts here!).
However, training didn’t always go exactly to plan. With it being winter, and being at university, I had a week where my training was altered due to me having a cold and there were other times when it just wasn’t sensible to push my body that extra mile by going out for a run. I also went to Italy, working and skiing, for three weeks in the month prior to the marathon. I returned exactly a week before the marathon! This had some benefits and some drawbacks… most notably it meant that I was able to carb-load for 3 weeks instead of just 3 days, which was pretty good fun! But, three days before I was due to leave, on my final run in France (we had skied over the border) I had an epic fall. I hadn’t really had a massive spill for my entire trip and this one definitely made up for that! My skis went flying, my poles disappeared, I lost my goggles, lost a glove, dislocated my finger and, most annoyingly, twisted my knee. Thursday night I was gutted, it had been 6 or 7 hours since I’d fallen and my knee was getting more painful instead of less. On the Friday I could hardly weight bare and spent all day icing my knee, worrying about how I was going to complete the marathon. However, with a week of resting (only 2 short, and very gentle, runs) , some taping and quite a few painkillers, my knee and I made it over that finish line!
The marathon itself was incredible. The supporters made it a race that is truly unforgettable. I was buzzing for the first 9 miles. I saw my sister and mum just before Mile 9 and there was still a huge smile on my face because of the atmosphere. However, it has to be said that running across Tower Bridge was the highlight. It was insane. I had goosebumps from the moment I set foot on it and for a good mile or so after. The crowds were all chanting your name and Teenage Cancer Trust had shown up in their masses to offer their support and to spur me on. It was when I was running over Tower Bridge that I had my holy crap I am really running the London Marathon moment, and it was a feeling like no other! Miles 15 through 22 weren’t that fun in all honesty… it wasn’t a pretty part of London to run through and, whilst I had boosts from seeing my best friend and the CoppaFeel stand in that section, my body was beginning to hurt more and more. At Mile 23 I saw my brother, sister and mum and that was the boost that got me over the finishing line. The last kilometre seemed to last an age but when I saw the 400m sign I managed to run faster than I had for the entire marathon, I just really wanted to finish so that I could stop running!!
I didn’t complete the marathon in a quick time by any means, but that really doesn’t matter to me. If anyone asks me what my time was I will proudly tell them that it was 6 hours and 38 minutes. Because I DID IT. Not only did I complete a marathon, which only 1% of the world’s population has done, but I also raised an incredibly large amount of money for a truly awesome charity. I put in hours and hours of dedicated training, my life has been taken over by marathon preparation, and I have poured my heart and soul into raising money for Teenage Cancer Trust. I am still buzzing from what I have achieved and I still cannot quite believe it. I probably won’t be running another marathon any time soon, and I haven’t been converted into someone who enjoys running, but I am so proud of what I have achieved and learnt about myself the past few months.
Bring on London 2020? That’s a complete joke by the way….